KARACHI: An anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Monday indicted former Malir Senior Superintendent of Police Rao Anwar and 17 others for the murder of Naqeebullah Mehsud, a native of South Waziristan, in a fake encounter in Karachi.
The accused, including Anwar, pleaded not guilty to the charges after which the Karachi ATC ordered the petitioner and the magistrate, who had recorded the testimonies of eyewitnesses, to appear on April 11 while adjourning the hearing.
It is pertinent to mention here that 13 police officials are in jail on judicial remand while five suspects, including Anwar, former DSP Qamar and three others are already out on bail.
Soon after the fake encounter came to the public attention, a high-level inquiry committee comprising senior police officials had ascertained that the deceased had no links with Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants; however, Anwar has stuck to his guns despite zero evidence to support his claim.
After slain model’s father Khan Muhammad Mehsud, showed no confidence in the ATC-II, the Sindh High Court (SHC) had transferred the cases to the ATC-III on Nov 5, 2018.
“The formal trial has not taken off so far because none of the suspects has been indicted by the trial court in the cases,” the victim’s counsel Advocate Salahuddin Panhwar had told a local media outlet on the previous hearing that had taken place on Jan 6.
Naqeebullah Mehsud, a 27-year-old from South Waziristan, was murdered on January 13 in Shah Latif Town in an alleged ‘encounter’ with a police team headed by Rao Anwar after being missing for 10 days. He was accused of having links to militant groups but the accusations proved false upon trial.
In March 2018, the Supreme Court had wrapped up the suo motu case of the staged encounter of Naqeebullah and issued a four-page verdict directing the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to carry out the investigation swiftly without any pressure.
The written order also stated that the JIT needs to stay independent and indifferent to media reports. A joint investigation team made for the incident found that the encounter was staged.
Before a joint investigating team had submitted its report to implicate suspended Malir SSP Rao Anwar and others in the murder of Naqeeb and three others, the officer and members of his police party had long disappeared.
On January 23, 2018, Anwar was caught by immigration officials at the Islamabad airport trying to board a Dubai-bound flight. However, the disgraced cop was easily able to escape law enforcement agencies and went into hiding again. He then resurfaced dramatically at the Supreme Court after repeated pleas from the chief justice, after which he was subsequently arrested.
Soon after his arrest, his house in Malir Cantonment was declared a sub-jail. He had later moved an application for provision of ‘Better Class’ facilities in the sub-jail. The court had accepted Anwar’s application for facilities, including an exemption from being handcuffed.
The extrajudicial killing of Naqeebullah and others, and foisting pistols and hand grenades on them after killing them in a staged shootout in Shah Latif Town are the two cases against him.
Ex-SSP Anwar was granted bail in the first and second cases on July 10 and July 20, respectively. In both cases, the court reasoned that he could not be kept under arrest since he was not present at the time of the encounter.